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FTC mulls dropping Google antitrust case
xcoder




msg:4521704
 1:25 am on Nov 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) officials are reportedly thinking of dropping their antitrust case against Google, Bloomberg reports.

The FTC reportedly plans to drop the case because it doesn't have the evidence needed to prove that the way Google ranks its search results is hurting consumers.

News of the FTC's possible decision comes following recent reports saying that the FTC was pleading with Google to arrive at a settlement.

According to Bloomberg, the FTC has enough evidence to prove that Google ranks its services higher than those of its competitors. However, the FTC is reportedly unable to prove that Google's "vertical searches" actually hurt consumers.

Read more:
[v3.co.uk...]


Sounds like the FTC is going to let Google get away with murder. All they had to do is survey a good chunk of web publishers and see the "light"...they'll (the FTC) would have had tons of evidence clearly pointing to criminal manipulations in no time.

Crap, this game was sold before it even started.

 

martinibuster




msg:4521746
 6:38 am on Nov 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

All they had to do is survey a good chunk of web publishers...


That statement needs a correction. There was a lot of input from the anti-Google side. Microsoft and other companies even created a lobbying group called FairSearch.org to fan the flames against Google. The FTC did survey competitors. Here is a link to the original article publised in Bloomberg [bloomberg.com].

Regulators are also looking at whether the ranking system’s benefits to consumers outweigh any harm suffered by rivals including NexTag Inc. and Kayak Software Corp... The FTC also is treating seriously complaints that Google has used customer reviews from other websites without permission


The FTC interviewed many publishers and companies as part of it's investigation and took their testimony. Additionally the Senate anti-trust committee held it's own investigation and took the testimony of other publishers [huffingtonpost.com]:

...members of the tech industry including Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman and Nextag CEO Jeff Katz, testified Wednesday at a hearing held by a U.S. Senate antitrust subcommittee that probed Google's search practices.

During the hearing, titled "The Power of Google: Serving Consumers or Threatening Competition?”, Katz asserted that Google "doesn't play fair," while Senator Mike Lee maintained that Google "cooked" its search results so that its own listings were "always third,"


I just want to improve the discussion on this point so that it is clear that testimony was taken from all sides. Apparently the issue now is whether consumers were harmed. The FTC appears to be wavering on this point, that consumers were not harmed. This is from a legal precedence set by anti-trust suits against Microsoft. Microsoft has played a leading role in fanning the flames against Google by being one of the founding members of FairSearch.org, an Anti-Google advocacy group. Rest assured there is no lack of input from publishers, there are many ax-grinders hard at work trying to bring Google down in this affair.

If you read the above citations you will now know that if Google avoids FTC action it is not from lack of input from competitors. It's because the FTC does not have a legal leg to stand on.

xcoder




msg:4521876
 1:03 pm on Nov 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

It's because the FTC does not have a legal leg to stand on.


Exactly my point. How is it possible?

Google are abusing their power in *broad day light*. How come the FTC doesn't have a legal foot to stand on. Obviously the input they received was not enough.

It is very hard to prove search results manipulations but not impossible...

mhansen




msg:4521880
 1:51 pm on Nov 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'll just say it, and open the can of worms. In the USA, it's called Corporatocracy. (Wiki link [en.wikipedia.org]) Where the big corporations, their tax revenue and their power, have a pretty big impact on the decision process of political leaders.

I really don't wear a tin-foil hat, nor am I a uber-liberal anti-capitalist. I simply accept it for what it is. But... I refuse to wear blinders and ignore that it happens like many others do.

- Google favors it's own products and advertisers. (I would too. Feed them more traffic, help them succeed, they'll have more money to feed back to me!)

- USA Gov't favors campaign contributors. (Corruption today is just buried in legalese and laws that don't impact politicians like they do you and I) If you watched the original live FTC hearing with Google in 2011, you watched Senators openly ASK (through suggestions and lobbying) Google for special treatment in their states. (which SEL wrote about here [searchengineland.com])

It is what it is...

[edited by: mhansen at 1:53 pm (utc) on Nov 23, 2012]

TypicalSurfer




msg:4521881
 1:52 pm on Nov 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google is just spending heavily in DC, there is no mystery. The FTC is on its way to being "captured" as is the SEC by Wall Street, the FDA by big pharm, etc.

My understanding is they got to a faction in the senate.


"In the interest of providing more regulatory certainty for American consumers and job creators, we urge the Federal Trade Commission to act with humility and restrain itself to activities for which it has clear legal authority," the senators wrote.

In addition to DeMint, the letter was signed by GOP Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), Orrin Hatch (Utah), John Thune (N.D.), John Cornyn (Texas), Johnny Isakson (Ga.), Roy Blunt (Mo.), John Boozman (Ark.), Pat Toomey (Penn.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.).

DeMint, one of the most conservative members of the Senate, is in line to become the ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee in the next Congress. The panel has jurisdiction over the FTC.


[thehill.com...]

It's best to own a few lawmakers, no better ROI on the planet.

The government can't stop google anyway, that is a market decision and also to a larger degree the willingness of marketers and publishers to consent to google rule. When consent ($) are stripped by those who feed the beast, google will be another alta vista.

Apparently it is in the best interest of the majority to support google government, a minority would like to see some balance but until a tipping point is reached and google is rejected by the majority, they will remain on the throne.

Everyone complains about the power of google when in fact, the power lays with their constituents and supporters.

superclown2




msg:4521969
 7:54 pm on Nov 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google have spent a fortune on "lobbying". What does that word mean? I know what it means to me.

As Bob Dylan once said: "Money doesn't talk. It swears".

xcoder




msg:4522013
 10:09 pm on Nov 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

The government can't stop google anyway, that is a market decision and also to a larger degree the willingness of marketers and publishers to consent to google rule. When consent ($) are stripped by those who feed the beast, google will be another alta vista.


"Alta vista" did not have the android back up plan, and that's what worries me most... (and should worry everyone).

Google will continue to hold the world's information by the balls via this op system for many years to come...

incrediBILL




msg:4522030
 10:48 pm on Nov 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

The ultimate kryptonite is:

User-agent: googlebot
Disallow: /


Until you use that, it's all just talk.

TypicalSurfer




msg:4522049
 12:03 am on Nov 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

The ultimate kryptonite is pausing all ad campaigns and not looking back.

Google isn't about indexing the web, the "ten blue links" is history.

incrediBILL




msg:4522055
 12:25 am on Nov 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google isn't about indexing the web


Really?

If enough people used my kryptonite the searchers would quickly look elsewhere and where the searchers go so goes the advertisers.

The net result is the FTC wouldn't have a problem with Google and then we'd be having this same FTC discussion in the Bing forum.

TypicalSurfer




msg:4522059
 12:43 am on Nov 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

If enough people used my kryptonite google would simply fold. You are suggesting kryptonite lite.

xcoder




msg:4522139
 7:34 am on Nov 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

You are suggesting kryptonite lite.


:-)


@TypicalSurfer
The problem is that adwords is flooded now with big brands with very deep pockets, shifting more and more of their ad $ to the web, into adwords in particular. They couldn't care less about the organic SERPs.

Good luck asking them to shut down their ad campaigns.

Bottom line... the little guys are well and truly stuffed.

martinibuster




msg:4522140
 7:51 am on Nov 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

They couldn't care less about the organic SERPs.


Are you serious?

Search is the oxygen that PPC breathes. Organic SERPs is what drives PPC. It's known as impressions. No impressions, no Pay Per Click (PPC) because there would be nothing to click.

Bottom line... the little guys are well and truly stuffed.


Not in the real world. NextTag, Yelp and many other big brands are out in front trying to influence the FTC to their advantage. There is a perception that big brands are immune but big brands have stepped forward to testify before the FTC and the senate because they are feeling the heat as well. Microsoft is one of the founders of a well funded Anti-Google advocacy group that is spending millions on this issue.

The little guys may yet end up "stuffed" but the stuffing isn't done just yet.

xcoder




msg:4522153
 9:24 am on Nov 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

Are you serious?


You've got me wrong. When i said "They couldn't care less about the organic SERPs." what i realy meant was "They dont care much about their position on the FREE organic SERPs."

They have very deep pockets to buy their high positions via adwords and that's what they really care about (most).

NextTag, Yelp


Sorry i don't consider these as big brands. When i say big brands i mean large brick and mortar (and in many cases multinational) corporations. NextTag, Yelp are small fry.

xcoder




msg:4522155
 9:44 am on Nov 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

The little guys may yet end up "stuffed" but the stuffing isn't done just yet.


Check the Google SEO board here and many other webmaster sites web wide. Check the Adwords board. The stuffing is knee deep, and in broad day light.

TypicalSurfer




msg:4522179
 12:37 pm on Nov 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google is the internet government. The only solution is to starve it, stop paying the tax. I'm not saying this will occur of course, I'm just saying that if enough advertisers pulled the plug it would be lights out. Referring to google as a search engine is misleading as they have openly admitted that they are no longer a search engine but a knowledge destination or some such thing, a hybrid of sorts I suppose but clearly moving away from search and offering direct "knowledge" from in-house sources.

TypicalSurfer




msg:4522180
 12:54 pm on Nov 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

Entrepreneurs, the people who need to be found have a massive need right now not being met via google, it has for many simply become a burden they can no longer afford, someone will step in to fill that need. That is how markets work. I was having this discussion the other day with someone and they agreed that small business owners will indeed work around almost any obstacle, he noted the proliferation of "sign wavers", people hired by small business to stand on the road with signs. Now to me that right there has giant market need written all over it.

You have a near tyrannical entity with google imposing its will on the individual spirit, that just won't last, no how, no way. Most small business owners I speak with actually hate google. That will shortly translate into market solutions.

There is another end to the market that I haven't seen discussed and that is the cost to consumers. Some verticals are currently taxed at the rate of 40-50 bucks a click, bringing their cost of a good or service sold through the google gate to 4-500 dollars. That cost is passed through to the consumer. I do expect the consumer or "user" would move to a cheaper venue if one existed. The whole notion that a bing or a duck-duck can operate a "me-too" ad model is flawed, there is no compelling reason, as measured in dollars for the consumer to switch. Someone fires up a nickel click engine allowing the advertiser to pass through the savings and heads will roll. You may not achieve world dominance at a nickel a click but you can certainly operate a bang up search engine.

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